WATER HEROES: Chambers County Extension Office Hosts Groundwater Festival

Published 8:30 am Thursday, May 18, 2023

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The Chambers County Extension Office hosted its second annual Groundwater Festival at West Point Lake on Wednesday. 

Fourth-grade students from schools around the county went to Hardley Creek Park to learn about water safety and water conservation. 

The Army Corps of Engineers, Chambers County Soil and Water Conservation and Chambers County 911 and EMA all helped to organize the festival.

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Around 250 students from Langdale, Fairfax, Huguley, W.O. Lance, Eastside and Bob Harding-Shawmut Elementary schools attended. 

“They’re just having a good time and glad to be out of school,” said Chambers County Extension Coordinator Rachel Snoddy. “It has been going well so far, and I think the kids are getting a lot out of it.”

The USACE volunteered to do a water safety station to teach the students how to use lifebuoys in case of a water emergency. Swift Water Resource Team with the East Alabama Fire Department also had a water rescue station set up.

The students all enjoyed the photo identification station, in which Fisheries Biologist Graves Lovell from Alabama Department of Conservation showed several live fish to the students.

Extension staff hosted a station teaching students about the water cycle. Students made beaded bracelets to help them remember each cycle. 

Representatives from Alabama Water Watch set up a station to demonstrate water pollution and why water is tested. They also showed the students how the presence of micro-invertebrates can reveal whether water has been polluted. 

Next, the ADEM hosted a filtration station to show students how several different pollutants affect water quality. The students got to try their hand at filtering the water out and learned which pollutants are harder to filter out. 

National Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist Patrick Rohling brought a rainfall erosion simulator to show students the effects of run-off and sediment pollution.

All fourth-grade students from the county participated in the “Be a water hero” art contest, and the winning art was put on drawstring bags for each student to take home. 

Sasha McClellan, a student in Misty Champion’s fourth-grade class at Fairfax Elementary, was the winner of the art contest. 

The festival had volunteers from the Valley High School student body, Coosa Valley RCND, Chambers County 911 and EMA and Extension staff. 

“The reason that we started here in Chambers County is because a few years ago, we had an ADEM grant to clean up Morris Creek in Lanett and Valley, and part of that grant was to do water quality education,” Snoddy said.

In 2020, the Chambers County Extension office received a water festival grant from the ADEM to promote water quality education. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, the festival was delayed until 2021.